Ethical Problems in Police Work


Ethics at work are the morals that should be possessed by everyone in the organization despite their position. Almost all organizations and sectors of the economy are faced with problems related to ethics. This is because people come from different backgrounds and are being forced by work circumstances to relate. It is from these relationships that ethics problems are realized. The law enforcement sector is no exception as it deals with the lawbreakers as well as the law enforcers such as the police officers, judges and many others who commit mistakes relating to ethics. However, what is important in all these is the realization of the problem and solving it.

Examples of ethical problems in police work

Most of the mistakes that arise from the law enforcement sector are those concerning discretion, honesty, loyalty, and duty. All these are principal qualities that should be possessed by any individual authorized to enforce the laws of any given nation. At times an individual may not have grown up having these qualities but are developed with time.


Discretion is a very good example of the ethical dilemmas that occur during the enforcement of laws by police officers. An ethical dilemma is a state where one is faced with two or more moral principles in which he or she is supposed to select one cause of action. The options from which one is required to choose from are all equally unfavorable or competitive hence putting you between a rock and a hard place. On the appointment of police officers, they are usually accorded the mandate of making sure that the law is enforced up to the last mark. This mandate is what brings about discretion during their service. A good example is the decision to make when arresting a lawbreaker.

It may seem easy but difficult on the other hand since we are all human beings embraced with mercy. As much as the police officers would want to enforce the law as per their duty, they may also have mercy on the individual especially after considering the subsequent punishments to be accorded. Another example is a situation where a traffic police officer finds a driver of a van driving at a supersonic speed and fails to arrest him or her then an accident occurs caused by the high speed. In the latter situation the officer uses his discretion and instead of arresting the lawbreaker he lets him free which leads to tragedy.

Judges are also faced with the same problem when making a ruling on an accused individual. They may let free a criminal who again becomes a menace to the community or imprison an individual who does not deserve it.

In my point of view this is the most important value that a law enforcer should possess. This is because they are distanced from their administrators in their line of duty since in most cases the situations occur in the field. They work on their own though under supervision so they should be able to make individual-based decisions at the same time adhering to the laws.


All law enforcers must make sure that the laws are obeyed and followed. Each situation during the enforcement of the law calls for specific personnel to handle it. For example the police officer must arrest individuals and forward them to the court if needed for judgment by the judges. Therefore, knowing your duty as a law enforcer is very important as it allows you to know what to do during service.

The police officers have the obligation of protecting citizens of a nation, however, some may regard this to be out of their line of duty hence neglecting people in need. For instance, in the case of an accident where there are survivors to be taken to the hospital yet the police officers are concentrating on arresting the drivers who may have been the cause of the accident forgetting the subsisters of the accident. It therefore a requirement for the whole law enforcement team to be aware of the duties to ensure smooth running in that sector.


Police officers are faced with so many temptations the major one being bribery. Most lawbreakers usually offer to give bribes instead of their cases being forwarded to the higher authorities. Honesty, therefore, comes in as police officers deviate from the mandate and cover-up for the lawbreakers by accepting bribes which is a form of dishonesty in work. The law enforcers, both the police officers and the judges may decide to give wrong facts about a certain crime, therefore, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of an innocent individual. They may also do the same to free a lawbreaker. All in all, honesty is a principle that is individual-based and practiced at their discretion.


Loyalty in the police force occurs in circumstances that officers want to cover up for their fellow police officers or family members that have committed crimes. On the other hand, they are bound to be loyal to the government that has accorded them the mandate of enforcing the law in the country. This in my opinion is the least important principle of the aforementioned principles used in law enforcement. This is because circumstances that call for loyalties are very few as compared to those that require honesty, discretion and familiarisation of your line of duty. The same case applies to the judges as no judge is authorized to make a ruling on persons with any form of relations or even their fellow judges in the same cadre. Such rulings are made by judges in the superior courts.

The enlisted four moral principles have the same order of importance in the whole law enforcement team. There are no variations in the order of importance since the main objective of the law enforcers is to ensure the implementation of the laws.

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DemoEssays. "Ethical Problems in Police Work." December 27, 2022.